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This spring, ACYPL sent a seven-member delegation to Japan for a 14-day exchange. Over the course of their trip, the group visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and Fukuoka. The delegation was geographically and professionally diverse, as it included the Mayor Pro Tem of Mason City, Michigan, a member of the Indianapolis City Council, the Treasurer of Charleston County, and the Director of Veteran Outreach and Eastern Region Community Engagements from The Boeing Company. The program was conducted in partnership with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), ACYPL’s in-country partner of many years.
While in Washington, DC, the delegation was hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission from the Japanese Embassy, who briefed them on some of the key issues in Japan-US relations including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, continued foreign investment, and domestic political issues in Japan.
The group’s time in Tokyo was largely focused on Japan’s national governance, political party structure, and trade policy. Among the notable highlights was a visit to the Japanese Diet and a lunch with some of its members, where they discussed party politics.
Additionally, the delegation had a detailed discussion about Japan’s foreign policy with the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and learned about Japanese-US business relations and recent developments in trade policy, as well as innovations in the energy sector from the Japan-US Business Council.
While in Hiroshima, the delegation visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where they laid wreaths and heard from a survivor of the 1945 atomic bomb drop. One of the delegates said, “This was one of the most memorable days on the exchange… it was emotional and very powerful.” In Yamaguchi, the delegation learned about US-Japan security alliances from the Mayor of Iwakuni City, which hosts a US Air Force Base. They visited the Hitachi Industry Kasato Factory and witnessed the production of the bullet train that they were also able to ride.
While the delegation did have a very busy formal agenda, they were able to take in some of Japans’ culture and learn about its history. The group took calligraphy at the local junior high and toured the Tokuyama Elementary School to observe typical Japanese school classes. They also visited Koto Fukagawa Edo Museum, the Meiji Shrine, and toured the Itsukushima Shrine, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. After a very meaningful exchange, ACYPL looks forward to continuing its bilateral partnership with JCIE.